Video shows a Republican state lawmaker in Oregon opening a door to the State Capitol last year to let rioters in, but he was only recently charged with misdemeanor offenses despite his decision making way for a faceoff between demonstrators and police officers. Rep. Mike Nearman was caught on surveillance video in the incident on Dec. 21 and charged on Friday with second-degree trespassing and first-degree official misconduct, according to court documents multiple news outlets obtained.
“He literally opened the door so rioters could enter the state capitol - and they charged him with misdemeanors,” civil rights and criminal defense attorney Rebecca Kavanagh tweeted late Sunday. And yet, prosecutors will charge Black and Brown people with serious felonies in a heartbeat if they're even present at the scene of a crime.”
Marion County prosecutors accused Nearman, “a public servant,” in court documents of “unlawfully and knowingly” performing “an act which constituted an unauthorized exercise of his official duties, with intent to obtain a benefit or to harm another.” With about 150 protesters gathered outside, the surveillance video shows Nearman letting demonstrators into the state building who wore no masks and held signs in support of President Donald Trump. More than 30 protesters made their way inside the building, Oregon state’s legislative administrator told The New York Times. At least five rioters were arrested and one man charged allegedly for spraying bear spray on officers during the incident, according to The Associated Press.
Nearman is the same conservative legislator who tried to pressure the state attorney general into joining a Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn results of the 2020 presidential election, the newspaper reported. He sued Gov. Kate Brown because she had the audacity to put COVID-19 restrictions in place to protect her constituents, and he has advocated for requirements attempting to force voters to prove citizenship to vote. In short, he’s a racist.
Nearman is scheduled for court May 11 and has already been removed from committee assignments, The Denver Gazette reported. Democrats called Nearman's actions "completely unacceptable, reckless, and so severe that it will affect people's ability to feel safe working in the Capitol or even for the legislature" in a formal complaint they filed in January. “Rep. Nearman put every person in the Capitol in serious danger and created fear among Capitol staff and legislators,” state House Speaker Tina Kotek tweeted on Friday. “I called on him to resign in January and renew my call in light of today’s charges.”
Nearman, who hasn’t responded to charges filed against him, issued a statement The Denver Gazette obtained upon the initial release of video of the lawmaker on Jan. 13. In his statement, he accused Kotek of deliberately releasing the footage after the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and he attempted to defend his support of Oregon insurrectionists.
"I don't condone violence nor participate in it," Nearman said in the statement. "I do think that when Article IV, Section 14 of the Oregon Constitution says that the legislative proceedings shall be ‘open,' it means open, and as anyone who has spent the last nine months staring at a screen doing virtual meetings will tell you, it's not the same thing as being open."
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